Pop a few bags of popcorn, swing by b.a.Sweeties for some Swedish fish and put on the most comfortable pair of pajamas you own. It’s time to load the kids into the family vehicle that most closely resembles a station wagon and partake in a summer tradition that conjures up memories from “back in the day.”
When searching for something family-friendly and nostalgic, look to the wide variety of drive-in theater options sprinkled around the Cleveland Plus region.
Aut-o-Rama Outdoor Theatre (about 30 minutes west of downtown)
33395 Lorain Road, Elyria
Mayfield Road Drive-In Theatre (about 45 minutes east of downtown)
12010 Mayfield Road, Chardon
Skyway Drive-In Theatre (about 1 hour southeast of downtown)
1805 North Leavitt Road Northwest, Warren
Elm Road Twin Drive-In Theatre (about 1 hour, 15 minutes southeast of downtown)
1895 Elm Road Northeast, Warren
Pymatuning Lake Drive-In (about 1.5 hours east of downtown)
State Route 7 & Marvin Road, Andover
Magic City Drive-In (about 20 minutes south of Akron)
5602 Cleveland Massillon Road, Barberton
Blue Sky Drive-In Theater (about 20 minutes west of Akron)
959 Broad Street, Wadsworth
Midway Drive-In Theatre (about 30 minutes east of Akron)
State Rt. 59, Ravenna
Springmill Drive-In Theatre (about 1 hour southeast of Akron)
1040 Springmill Street, Mansfield
Sunset Drive-In Theatre (about 1 hour southwest of Akron)
4018 Park Ave West, Mansfield
While the car is packed, you should roll into one of the area’s authentic drive-in restaurants:
Skyway Drive-In Restaurants (three locations)
- 951 East Turkeyfoot Road (Rt. 619), Green
- 2781 West Market Street, Fairlawn
- 3296 Medina Road (Rt. 18), Medina
Swenson’s Cheeseburgers (seven locations)
- 40 S. Hawkins Avenue, Akron
- 658 E. Cuyahoga Falls Avenue, Akron
- 4466 Kent Road (rt.59), Stow
- 40 Brookmont Road, Akron
- 7635 Broadview Road, Seven Hills
- 5815 Wales Avenue, Massillon
- 1558 N Main Street, North Canton
Sonic Drive-In (three locations)
- 3280 Center Road, Brunswick
- 1842 Snow Road Midtown Plaza, Parma
- 9780 State Route 14, Streetsboro
- 330. 626.9601
– Submitted by A.I.
Frank and Charles Menches from Akron, Ohio are credited with inventing the hamburger when they ran out of pork for sausage patties they were selling at the 1885 Erie County Fair and decided to spice up some beef (with coffee, brown sugar and other ingredients) and hawk them as “hamburgers,” so named for Hamburg, NY, where the fair was held. Later, they went on to open Menches Bros. Restaurant, which is still family owned and operated in Akron, where their legendary burgers are served.
So, as the birthplace of the hamburger, it should come as no surprise that Cleveland Plus offers up an inspired array of burgers.
In addition to the location in Avon, another Chef Symon location opened in Woodmere on the east side of town. The restaurant features Symon’s famous burgers, brats, bologna, craft beers and the renowned “Fat Doug” burger (beef patty topped with pastrami, Swiss cheese and coleslaw on a brioche bun) winner of the 2010 South Beach Wine and Food Festival’s Burger Bash.
Wood booths and an old-fashioned neighborhood appeal await you at Brennan’s Colony. Once you’ve quit playing the Ms. Pacman arcade game, refuel with one of the bar-inspired burgers Brennan’s offers. Try the juicy “All World Burger” for one of the best burgers in town.
Buckeye Beer Engine
This place really celebrates beer by specializing in hard-to-find quality drafts with nearly 30 exceptional local and microbrews on tap. And, the burger list is off the charts. Try the West Side burger, equipped with caramelized onions, sour cream, and a cheddar potato pierogi or take a stab at the Fatty Melt, with a patty placed between two grilled cheese sandwiches, topped with bacon and tomato. If beef isn’t your preference, you can also substitute a multitude of different patty options, including a Portobello mushroom cap or chicken breast.
Cleveland ChopHouse & Brewery
Casual elegance of the ‘40s-inspired specializing in delicious steaks, chops, BURGERS, white cheddar mashed potatoes and handcrafted beers.
Fire Food & Drink
This eatery, tucked away in historic Shaker Square, offers a sophisticated menu with an interesting burger surprise. The Miller Farm grass fed beef cheeseburger uses naturally raised beef to create a more organic burger experience. This burger is supplied by the nearby Miller Farm and is garnished with cheddar, tomato relish, mustard aioli and garlic fries.
Johnny’s Little Bar
Considered a true hidden gem, Johnny’s Little Bar offers what many rate as the best burgers in the city and a plentiful beer list. Located behind the ultra-upscale Johnny’s Downtown, Little Bar offers up a cool, casual atmosphere in a (you guessed it) very little bar.
Metro Bar + Kitchen
The recently opened Metro Bar + Kitchen is a dynamic, hip, energetic restaurant featuring a mouthwatering menu chocked full of American classics and a bar serving more than 15 craft and microbrews. Entering the emerging “burger bar” scene, Metro brings its own version of this American pastime to the forefront.
Owned by legendary NFL coach Don Shula, Shula’s 2 is part sports bar and part casual dining. The menu features steaks and burgers with a focus on “The Shula Cut” and premium black angus beef. A great place to enjoy televised sports.
Wesley T. “Pop” Swenson opened the first original Swenson’s restaurant in 1934. This quintessential American drive-in restaurant features burgers with a secret sauce that’s been in the family since its inception. (Veg-heads, there’s a veggie burger on the menu too!)
Grab an interesting veggie burger or a juicy Curtburger at a Cleveland landmark, Tommy’s. This veggie-focused eatery offers a wide variety of healthy dishes as well as ones catered to the carnivorous. The winner of numerous “best casual meal” awards, Tommy’s is a restaurant worth trying.
Check out these other great burger restaurant suggestions submitted by Twitter users following @PositivelyCleve:
Academy Tavern: 216.229.1171
The Greenhouse Tavern: 216.443.0511, www.thegreenhousetavern.com
Cedar Lee Pub and Grill: 216.371.1713
56 West: 216.226.0056, www.fiftysixwest.com
Heck’s Café: 216.861.5464, www.heckscafe.com
Parkview Nite Club: 216.961.1341, www.parkviewniteclub.com
Rocky River Brewing Co: 440.895.2739, www.rockyriverbrewco.com
–Submitted by ML, CA and SF.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a favorite Northeast Ohio burger not listed here, please comment below so we can add it to the list.